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Seeing the Vatican sanely (and without a tour).

I know a lot has been written about this but I'm on overload from sifting through it all! We plan to see the Vatican Museum/Sistine when we're in Rome (3 days) in Oct. The most sane itinerary I think I've read for handling lines/crowds is to see St. Peter's early in the morning, take a break, and then get in line for the museum around 11:00 - noon - when the line is rumored to be much shorter. Exit the back way out of the Sistine into St. Peter's for a last look on the way out. Any of you who've been there recently, does this sound like the best way to go about this? And one more question? What with it taking some serious hours to get through the museum and Sistine, I assume they have "facilities" somewhere along the way?

Posted by
241 posts

The reason to take a tour is to bypass most of a long, long line. The official Vatican tour gets you in at the least expensive tour price, 23 euro. Once in you don't have to stay with the tour. Alternative is to be early in line for the cool of the morning. Once in it will heat up, especially as crowds grow.

Posted by
525 posts

Your plan sounds great. I was at the Vatican last month and waited less than 15 minutes to get into the museum around 1:30 p.m. Yes--there are restrooms along the way and even a bar (in the Italian sense of the word) in the area near the enterance to the Sistine Chapel.

Posted by
13 posts

Check the Vatican website for hours as most days they close pretty early and getting in line between 11-1 won't get you in because that is pretty close to the last admission time. The tour with the Vatican guide took 2 hours and was very good, on your own you would probably like 3-4 hours, which again with the early closing times might be difficult. I can't say I noticed any washroom facilities further into the museum but if they have them the lines will likely be long.

Posted by
15993 posts

I think we'll be OK getting in line at 11:00 or noon as the museums are open until 4:45. Will just have to allow ourselves enough time for the Long March to the Sistine!

Posted by
842 posts

We just did the Vatican and St Peters't two weeks ago. We got there just before 11, and went directly to the Museum.(we should have been there earlier!) There was about a 5 minute wait to get in. We started in the Pinacoteca. When we were done, we followed Rick's advice to the "T". We did not use the audio tour.....just did our own tour, we ducked out the back door of the Sistine Chapel and then did the St Peter's tour. We had to make sure that we moved right along thru the museum, slowing down for the "good stuff", but that did not bother me. When we 1st walked up to the Vatican, the line for St Peter's looked like it was a mile long, but, by starting in the Vatican Museum, and not having to return the audio guide back at the start, we skipped the long line and avoided the wait. We just looked at the lines......and the one for the musuem was shortest. Arriving late and seeing both made for quite a wait until lunch, but it can be done, especially if you don't dawddle around.

Posted by
15993 posts

BINGO, Steve! You and Jeff seem to be on the same page as far as doing the museum later rather than earlier. And with no "organized" tour. Thanks a bunch!!!! What did you use for reference? I want to skip the audio guide too as I read that it's a pain to have to return it. We don't want to make a beeline to the Sistine but I know we can't linger over every single painting/sculpture/map/etc. either. Readers, aside from the Sistine and the Raphels, what was your favorite, not-to-be-missed section of the museums?

Posted by
15993 posts

LOL!!! I know what you mean about the statuary - guess that's why they added all those fig leaves later? You know, I saw the Sistine in 1973 - before it was restored. I thought it was a WOW then so can't imagine what a wow it is now. Good to know that the Egyptian section is good - will make a note not to miss it. I imagine that it's easy to get into serious Museum Overload with 4 miles of art? Oof.

Posted by
842 posts

Kathy, we did some research before we went, then went and saw what we were interested in. Out 1st stop was the room with all of the horse carriages (we are horse people), then the Pinnoteca. Everything else was fluff; (I like Rick's description, "4 miles of halls...... with statues with broken penis's), except for the Egyptian rooms (WOW!) and then the Raphael rooms and Sistine chapel. (Double WOW's!)